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Insomnia. Homer. Tight sails of ships
I've counted halfway down, a list
that turns-long brood-to a procession of cranes
rising, once, above Hellas.

A wedge of cranes crossing forbidden borders
--kings' heads drenched with godly foam--
where do they sail to? What would Troy be
to you, Achaean men, without Helen?

The sea, Homer-everything is moved by love.
To whom shall I listen? Homer is silent now;
the sea, black, noisy, oppressive as an orator,
skulks toward my pillow and starts to roar.

(Osip Mandelstam)

(Translation first appeared in Hanging Loose 49, Spring 1986)

 

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